Skip to main content

Considering a creative course starting in 2020 or 2021? Email to find out about studying with us. Register for one of our Online Open Days at


UAL Foundation Diploma in Art & Design — Overview

Applications for 2020 entry are now open.

The Foundation Diploma Art & Design will enable your process of thinking and making to develop within a vibrant and diverse creative environment.

This is an exciting and immersive course that prepares you for degree study in the creative arts.

'All that is solid melts into air' (2016) by student Anaya Harrup, exhibited at Tate Modern.

You will explore a range of subjects and learn through experimentation and risk taking.

This course will help you to move beyond your comfort zone, establish your unique voice and identify your areas of interest.

Students exhibit work at our annual end of year Foundation Show.

Striking a balance between taught sessions and your own independent studio practice, our experienced and knowledgeable tutors will challenge you to work beyond your comfort zone. 

You will develop an individual approach to problem-solving, giving you the confidence to discuss your work in formal and informal settings, in large and small groups.

What will I achieve?

Stage one introduces you to critical thinking and creative approaches to art, design and media through a rotation of methodologies, processes and materials.

Designing for a post-apocalyptic world in Anaya Harrup’s sketchbook.

For stage two you will identify your chosen pathway and develop project ideas and outcomes. You will be supported and challenged by lecturers who are active in their field.

You will develop the skills and confidence to pursue your applications to degree-level study.  

Stage three brings together your learning in the development of a self-initiated project which includes an extended critical essay and end of year summer show.

“The course was really interesting because it was so experimental – you try so many different things on it. I came in with experience in painting and some installation but worked on things like film and sculpture during too. That was one of the great things about it. We weren’t restricted at all.”
— Kez Dearmer, Foundation Diploma in Art & Design student

European or international student? 

We welcome European and international students with a good command of English language skills (IELTS 6.0 or above). If you do not meet this requirement we offer a presessional course in English. Take a look at our international students page for more information.

If you are confident in your choice of specialist degree, we offer an Extended BA as an alternative to our Foundation Diploma in Art & Design. This programme, with a similar structure to our Foundation Diploma course, prepares you for degree-level Higher Education study over a year before pre-confirmed progression on to the first year of one of our degree programmes.

Students are encouraged to experiment with new processes and ways of thinking, such as through performance drawing exercises.

Applying to our UAL Foundation Diploma in Art & Design
Because we receive a high number of applications and have a limited number of places for this course, we recommend that you make your application to us as early as possible. You don't don't have to wait for your results to get an interview, we like to meet and interview all applicants. Find out more here.

Follow us on INSTAGRAM: @foundationartanddesign

UAL Foundation Diploma in Art & Design — Modules

Diagnostic Investigation into Creative Practice

The content for this unit is not restricted to but will typically cover the following:

  • Investigations into research methods, including ethical perspectives.
  • Analysis of creative practice.
  • Application of creative theory in support of practice.
  • Exploratory and experimental investigations into manual and/or digital techniques, processes and creative practices.
  • Application of materials, techniques and processes for a variety of creative practices and audiences.
  • Investigations into the relationship between ideas, visual language and purpose. 

Developing Specialist Practice

The content for this unit is not restricted to but will typically cover the following:

  • Reflection, analysis and evaluation to identify achievement and to recognise further opportunities for personal development.
  • Critical analysis and evaluation to assess the effectiveness of a range of research and contextual perspectives to explore ideas and develop creative solutions within a specialist creative practice.
  • Application of relevant skills and the necessary knowledge and understanding of a range of creative processes to develop. 

Consolidating Practice

This unit is designed to help develop a greater understanding of the progression opportunities available and it is also designed to encourage the development of more effective presentation and communication skills appropriate to their chosen art, design or media specialist practice.

The unit content will vary according to the specific demands of the student’s chosen individual or collaborative project, which is derived from proposals that have been developed in consultation with tutors.


During your Level 3 course you will be supported to continue practicing your English and Maths skills in the development of your Professional Skills and in preparation for Higher Education and Employment. 

UAL Foundation Diploma in Art & Design — Staff

Madalaine Blyth

Madalaine Blyth
Course Leader

Madalaine is Course Leader for Foundation Diploma and Curriculum Manager for Art, and also oversees our UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art & Design (Fashion & Textiles).

Inspired by street style and runway couture, Madalaine’s degree in fashion paved the way for her own fashion illustration business, freelance projects, and private commissions, as well as her career in education. Published in urban Australian magazines and online zines, her work focuses on rendering textures and fabrics in lifelike forms. Since relocating to Plymouth from Sydney, Australia – via Brick Lane, London – she takes time out from her teaching and digital design work by putting pen to paper, and drawing creatively.

Madalaine has been teaching since 2011, and leading Pre-Degree level courses (in Australia) since 2013. She joined the team here in August 2015, and said of the college, “There’s a whole community and culture of learning here... you can just walk into a different studio and your whole direction may change – in a really fantastic way. You never know what’s going to be around the next corner – you might get a fresh perspective, or a new idea could crop up, or you’ll understand a mistake that you haven’t been able to resolve. Sometimes it’s completely unexpected, and that’s what’s so fun about it.”

Matt Skelley

Matt Skelley

Originally from the South West, Matt Skelley studied at Plymouth College of Art on our Foundation course in the early 2000s, when the course was based at Sutton Annexe on Regent Street.

After completing the Foundation course, Matt went to Cardiff Met (then known as UWIC) for his BA (Hons) Fine Art, staying on at the university to complete an MA in Fine Art in 2006.

Matt remained in Wales to study for his PGCE at Cardiff University, completing it in 2009. Whilst living in Cardiff, Matt also worked as a promoter, running a rock and indie music night in the city.

During his career, Matt has also been a practicing fine artist, and has exhibited his work in cities across the UK including Cardiff, Brighton, Birmingham, Stroud, and Milton Keynes. Matt’s work takes the form of installations, live art, photography and drawing, and he was also part of a group in Cardiff exploring collaborative art making practice.

After completing his PGCE, Matt moved to Newbury College to take up the position of Course Leader for their Extended Diploma in Art & Design. He then moved on to work as Programme Manager for HND and Level 3 Photography and Graphic Design at Milton Keynes College, where he remained for five years, before returning to the South West and to Plymouth College of Art, to take up the role of Lecturer on our UAL Foundation Diploma in Art & Design in 2017. He primarily works with the Fine Art students on this programme, and he also teaches on our UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art & Design.

The staff listed on this programme are correct at the time of writing. Students will be notified if there are any changes to key staff (i.e. Programme Leaders and Lecturers).

UAL Foundation Diploma in Art & Design — Student Work

Kez Dearmer

Matteo Crescenzi

Student work by Megan Kirkup

Student work by Xanthe Burdett

Charlie Huish

Joe Webb

Lucy Elloway

Visual Communication

Fine Art

Fashion and Textiles

UAL Foundation Diploma in Art & Design — Students Say

Work by Kez Dearmer

Kez Dearmer, Foundation Diploma in Art & Design student 2014/15

Progression: Chelsea College of Art

I originally applied for universities like UCL and Goldsmiths but didn’t get in because of my portfolio, so decided to do the Foundation course at the college. I really used it to develop my portfolio and to develop my studio practice.

The course was really interesting because it was so experimental – you try so many different things on it. I came in with experience in painting and some installation but worked on things like film and sculpture during the course too. That was one of the great things about it. We weren’t restricted at all.

The teaching was really interesting. All the tutors have different specialisms, which is obviously really useful. It was great. It’s good to get an all-round view of the art world – which is what it’s all about really.

Doing the Foundation basically allowed me to get into Chelsea. They were particularly impressed with my knowledge of contextual studies and the current world of modern art, which I developed during the Contextual Studies module at the college.

The facilities at the college were great too. The woodwork room in particular, and the wood technician Martyn, was really useful. I chose to paint on board rather than canvas so Martin really helped with how to do that. And the Equipment Resource Centre was great, very very good, particularly for when I was working with digital – being able to borrow equipment like cameras. The space in general was really good.

Not only does the course help you develop your practice but you meet a whole load of new people there who are purely investing their time in art. You meet people who work in fashion illustration, film. You get a good sense of what’s going on in the art world. General chit chat just turned into massive, inspirational discussions.

Work by BA (Hons) Photography graduate Maciej Krzyminski

Maciej Krzyminski, Foundation Diploma in Art & Design

"The Foundation Diploma at Plymouth College of Art is a perfect course for anybody who wants to expand their creativity and experiment with different mediums to help them find the right path. It was great to be surrounded by students with different interests and to see their ways of creating a body of work. I was pushed and motivated a lot, and after Foundation Diploma, I felt more than ready for my degree course."

Rima Jastrumskente, Foundation Diploma in Art & Design

“My film is based on a story about my father.  When I was feeling homesick, dad would tell me fascinating stories on Skype about his life. So I decided to make a visual story about them. 

When he was young my father had to go into the army. He served in the Black Sea doing patrol work on boats, tracking planes. He had to keep his work secret for 25 years.

My family are working farmers and in Lithuania there are certain farming traditions. When my father was just a boy, my grandfather would ask him to help him slaughter a pig; but my father never wanted to do it and he would run away. Just before he left for the army, grandfather asked him again, and this last time he decided to face his fear.

This experience came back to my father when he was in the army. In the early hours of one morning, a cook woke him up, saying, ‘You’re a country boy. You must know how to deal with a pig.’ And so he had to do what he had seen his father do.”

Rob MacKenzie, Foundation Diploma in Art & Design

“I love reading but I’m very dyslexic and I explore my ideas though writing as well as looking at other artists’ work. I based this project on the capacity for violence and made an installation. First, I made clay pots, filled them with red paint and gave written instructions, inviting people to throw them into a space where I was sitting. I was interested in how people felt after doing it – they felt guilty but enjoyed it. I looked at images of Guantanamo for reference and set up a curtain to screen the space, so it was like entering a forbidden space.

One of my sources was Plato, who reasoned:  ‘If we imagined ourselves granting to both the just and the unjust the freedom to do whatever they liked, we could then follow both of them and observe where their de sires led them, and we would catch the just man red-handed travelling the same road as the unjust.’

This is the idea my end-of-year show installation explored. Once inside the room I made, people would have no responsibility. They would no longer exist as part of the world because they were not bound by the rules of the world outside.”

Callum Charman

“I’m from Liskeard and commute by train. It’s definitely worth the journey. I came here on an Open Day after A-levels and I also looked at the Degree Shows. The College has really good resources, especially in glass and metal. We’ve only been here five weeks, but I’ve already had inductions to all of the facilities. We have total access; if you want something, you can just go and find it. The Foundation Diploma course studios provide plenty of space and the tutors are very personable and encouraging. The course content is very rich, and the information is clear. Illustration is the direction I’m heading in.”

Sophie Tascher-Baldwin

“I did A levels in Art, Photography, Film Studies, History of Art and English Language before I started the Foundation course. I shopped around because I wanted to move away from home, and I visited places as far apart as London and Cornwall, but when I arrived to look around I just thought,  ‘This is it, I’ve found what I want’. I feel completely at home here. Helen Markes’s approach and presentation impressed me; it made the place feel quite intimate. There’s a real sense of community – everyone talks to one another and the tutors treat you as an equal. I come from a very academic background but here everyone talks art!”

UAL Foundation Diploma in Art & Design — Careers & Alumni

Once you have successfully completed this course, you will be ideally placed to progress onto degree study both nationally and internationally. As part of our creative continuum, and as a reflection of your potential, we guarantee our Foundation Diploma students a place on one of our BA (Hons) programmes when you successfully complete the qualification. For details and additional requirements, take a look at our How To Apply page

If you are confident in your choice of specialist degree, we offer an Extended BA as an alternative to our Foundation Diploma in Art & Design.

This programme, with a similar structure to our Foundation Diploma course, prepares you for Higher Education study over a ​year before pre-confirmed progression on to the first year of one of our degree programmes.

Our BA (Hons) degree programmes include:

BA (Hons) Animation

BA (Hons) Ceramics & Glass

BA (Hons) Commercial Photography for Fashion, Advertising & Editorial

BA (Hons) Costume Production & Associated Crafts

BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts

BA (Hons) Digital Media Production

BA (Hons) Fashion

BA (Hons) Fashion Media & Marketing

BA (Hons) Film

BA (Hons) Fine Art

BA (Hons) Game Arts

BA (Hons) Graphic Design

BA (Hons) Illustration

BA (Hons) Interior Decoration, Design & Styling

BA (Hons) Jewellery

BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking

BA (Hons) Photography

BA (Hons) Printed Textile Design & Surface Pattern

BA (Hons) Product Design & Innovation

BA (Hons) Textile Practices

UAL Foundation Diploma in Art & Design — Entry Requirements

We offer places to students who have a GCSE profile of at least 5 A*-C grades and a combination of AS and A-Level qualifications (with one in a creative subject). We also welcome applications from mature students who may not have the qualification profile – but who have other experience and knowledge.

Portfolio requirements

All applicants need to show a portfolio of creative work that reflects their passion, enthusiasm and commitment for art, design and media.

UAL Foundation Diploma in Art & Design — Resources

You will be based in our new, dedicated Foundation Studio with individual work spaces. You will have access to a wide range of specialist workshops and technology resources – from ceramics and glass studios, to printmaking and textiles workshops, 3D printing technology in Fab Lab Plymouth, and photographic and filmmaking facilities.

Facilities at the college include:

Animation, Film and Photography Studios

Our students make full use of our industry-standard dedicated studio spaces – including our infinity cove, green screen, and specialist sound studio (with Foley pit and vocal recording booth) – plus our stop-motion suite, our darkrooms, and plenty of individual edit suites, all up-to-date with the latest industry-standard software.

Drawing Studios

With north-facing windows, a ‘methods and process’ area, individual studio space and a specialist life-drawing studio, our impressive, open-plan, triple-height Drawing Studio is a huge space, perfect for many different activities and specialisms.

Our stop-motion suite.

Fab Lab Plymouth

Our ‘fabrication laboratory’ is kitted-out with the latest in digital design technologies – from 3D printers to 3D scanners, a vinyl cutter, CNC milling machine, CNC router and laser cutter. It adds a whole new level of opportunity for students across all creative walks of life.

Fine Art Printmaking Studios

A fantastic facility supporting fine art printmaking, our dedicated space caters for a wide range of programmes and processes. You’ll get access to a 150-year-old Columbian press, an Albion press, an historic and rare wallpaper press, and an automatic FAG proofing press, plus a broad selection of metal and wood type, vacuum screen-printing beds, and four etching presses.

Our Printed Textile Design Studio offers a wide range of resources and processes including screen-printing.

Digital Print Bureau and Equipment Resource Centre

Our Digital Print Bureau offers affordable and quick print services for all our students who are looking for anything from large-format or solvent printing, to photo printing, scanning or vinyl cutting, and a wide range of finishing services. Our highly experienced Equipment Resource Centre staff can advise you on which of our 6,000 pieces of industry-standard kit – from underwater cameras to traditional large format cameras and all free to hire – will best meet your needs.

Woods and Plastics Workshop

Alongside the latest in new technology, we value the long-standing traditions of making in wood and plastics – and have developed an excellently-resourced workshop that is open to all our students. It boasts a wide range of kit, including an impressive CNC router, plenty of saws and lathes, and strip-heaters, as well as greenwood-working facilities.

Fab Lab Plymouth

Our Photographic cove.

Our Fine Art Printmaking Studio.

UAL Foundation Diploma in Art & Design — Interview

Full Time